May 2018 Review Issue
"mighty city that stands in the center of the defended kingdom." It
is a holy kingdom guided by knights and gods, and its latest mission is
eliminate the forces of darkness from its borders; for within this
Possessed, intruders, threats to the royalty who oversee the city's
an impossible quest.
and sorcery fantasy will find Halorum a fast-paced
story of struggle and
medieval-style battles between forces of good and evil. The clashes
not only between kingdoms and regions, but between living and undead,
and humans, and creatures that lie somewhere inbetween.
epic battles, there is a dash of romance, good characterization, and
into the social, political, and spiritual forces that affect the
ordinary citizens: "Our kingdom runs vast, our hearts run
deep, and by
the love of the Gods our lives run long." The citizens praised his
"But the Gods do not hear our love. They do not hear the beating of our
hearts and the words from our mouths. And for this we are feeling the
the demons within us all."
backdrop a story evolves that portends of prophecy, death threats, a
perceived as hiding behind his kingdom, necromancers aided by the
and the woman Paulira,
actions change the balance of power and everything she touches.
Readers seeking an
epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy packed with action, powerful women, and
built on the foundation belief that the Halorum Knights are their Gods
find Halorum an invigorating read
that gallops through action and confrontation like a man possessed,
subplots that ultimately comment on the roots of faith, belief, and
against all odds.
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ASIN: B079Z6XX8M $2.99
Streets of Nottingham, the world has been broken by a
between the mother of creation and a god-king. Only one small village
escaped this breaking: one which prays to the mother whose distant
a deadly and merciless force about to erupt.
makes it to
the streets of Nottingham from the outside world. In that world, there
young man who struggles with the long, unrequited love of a childhood
a refuge whose boundaries are marked by chaos.
to note about Auckly Simwinga's story is its attention to setting,
characterization and detail. Scenes are vividly described from the
protagonist's observation of his life and village, and come to life: "This
is a truly desolate place we have found ourselves in. Sands the colour
as far as the eye can see. Touched by black mountains that rise steeply
the sky, like razor-sharp walls of coal black stone. There is a full
tonight, but its light dies suddenly before it hits the ground. On the
we can see fiery chasms, remnants from the breaking of the world,
into the black sky."
attempt at a
quest which only leads to more darkness befuddles the young adventurer (“‘The
darkness will be your guide’... How can it be my guide when I can’t see
thing? ‘Seek not in the darkness’...” Maybe I should just sit down and
anything!"), but he forges on, and his encounter with Lord
other elements of rebirth and destruction leads readers on a horseback
through mountains, over bridges, and through a confrontation that
highest levels of courage.
The Streets of
Nottingham provides a gripping
focus on revelations and experiences at every
step, providing a solid "you are there" feel to the quest that takes
a song's questionable meanings and pairs them with a hero's journey to
love, anger and death, and the impact of god-kings past and arisen anew
coalesce into a gripping saga that is firmly grounded by challenging
encounters along the way.
The result is a
thoroughly engrossing read that's highly and especially recommended for
readers seeking more poetic and vivid descriptions than most epic
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Adapted by Martin Blank from talks by Booker T. Washington
American Ensemble Books
Character Building is a one-man
musical adapted from Dr.
Washington's inspirational talks to his students at Tuskegee University
comes not only from his own words, but from his method of blending
Afro-American spirituals into his speeches.
and directed by author Martin Blank, premiered at Capitol Hill Arts
Washington, D.C. on February 3, 2018, is set in 1899, and captures not
words of Dr. Washington, but the circumstances of his life, the
his mission, and the impact of his informal talks to students, which
designed to encourage and build character.
musical and admonitions from the good doctor are keys to dealing with
adjusting one's approach to and direction within it: "We
all know there are people who only see the dark side.
Everything they say is unpleasant. I have actually seen people coming
road who caused me to want to cross to the other side. One of the ways
people are likely to go astray is to spend their time with persons who
mean and low dispositions."
notes added, Dr. Washington's words would have been heavy indeed; but
Blank's attention to juxtaposing the seriousness of their meaning with
spirituals such as "I Cannot Tarry Here" and "We Are Climbing
Jacob's Ladder" lends not only an upbeat tone to these insights, but
captures the culture and flavor of Afro-American lives.
lends to a drama production's usage, but the spiritual and
insights assume an especially hard-hitting flavor couched in a story of
self-discovery and how to live a meaningful life.
production that should be high on the lists of any drama class seeking
capture the spirit and enthusiasm of Afro-American lives in general and
historic impact of Dr. Booker T. Washington in particular; well-done
already seasoned with a purposeful impact strengthened by the choice of
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Laura Bernstein Machlay
Trade paperback: 9780999750100 $14.95
Ebook: 9780999750117 $ 7.99
in Travelers have appeared in a
journals, from Moon City Review to CrossCurrents and The Nassau Review;
they're gathered here under one cover for the first time to transmit
Bernstein Machlay's prowess as a wordsmith talented in depicting
kinds of life journeys.
'Hitchhikers', for one example. Bernstein-Machlay's engrossing portrait
those who travel via thumb and open road is nicely developed, with a
sense of time, place, and people: "...
this was the '70s. Hitchhikers were plentiful as pennies on the ground,
crowding the mouths of freeways, perched even on the side streets of
Zaidy’s fraying Detroit neighborhood. The sort of hitchhikers Zaidy
secure stopping for—the girls dewy-skinned and too-thin, the boys with
facial hair—wore loose, garish dashikis and tie-dyed T-shirts,
that flip-flapped in gentle percussion against their calves. They rose
lilies above knee-high grasses, their thumbs pointed toward traffic,
signs proclaiming their destinations..."
hitchhiker's journey to Canada to visit his brother becomes the vehicle
a young girl reflects on fears, freedoms, and life journeys impacted by
and attitude: "The boy squirmed a
little, shook out his arms. 'Man, you’re lifesavers,' he said in a
low voice. 'It’s been hours. My thumb’s killing me.' I looked down and
enough, he was vigorously massaging the fleshy portion of his palm with
non-thumbing hand. 'I was getting awful lonely out there,' he added. I
in commiserate feeling. Even then I understood myself to be a
shuffled from my divorced mother’s condo to Bubby and Zaidy’s house
she had a hot date or wanted to let loose. I imagine the '70s as a
for singles and my mother was living the dream."
Travelers takes no singular approach
either to the open road or the
open mind. Readers should expect not a collection of cultural
travelogues as much as a probe cemented by the interactions of Bubby,
their granddaughter, and the characters who move in and out of their
observations of life and her place in it lie at the heart of these
tales; whether they be insights into her place in life ("For
years, forever, I’ve been knotted and snarled in my own
bones, my voice constrained to whisper. Former fat girl, shy girl at
duck & cover girl. Don’t
notice me don’t notice me don’t notice me has been my mantra. I wear it like a shroud."), her friendships, or family
eight-year-old who faces a stranger in her family's car to being "...twenty-five, stupid
and lost and sick somewhere in Brittany",
these essays reflect journeys through life, changing times, and
places; capturing the essence of movement and transformation in the
uprooting and facing homelessness.
Those looking for powerful literary pieces which take the theme of travel and elevate it to physical and psychological moments in time forever captured by the written word will relish the delicate progression of Travelers as it carries readers on a vivid journey through life's potent moments of revelation and self-realization.Travelers
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Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B07B59NWTD $3.99
when a hard-working architect involved in an intense project confronts
closely-held secret so mind-boggling that she winds up in an asylum?
experiences a truth so horrific that her sanity is threatened; and in
fight her way back to reality and the truth, she begins a memoir.
forms the foundation of The 8th Sky, a vivid,
compelling saga of what
happens when "the whole world has amnesia except for me."
more important: how can Lin get her old life back when everything she's
believed in is now in jeopardy?
The 8th Sky
is packed with detailed psychological insights that pack punches from
start. Lin's worry she might never see her twins again, her loss of
recognition that history has become fluid as a result, and her
"...the madhouse is used to silence those who don't comply..."
make for gripping episodes of insanity, sanity, and horror.
with this terrible truth, what can Lin do to change things? When Lin
that many other inmates of the asylum may have been set up, like her,
becomes even more convinced that the nightmare is only beginning and is
rooted in reality.
expect big concepts and stark conundrums in a story that combines the
of an engrossing scientific thriller with a psychological mood piece.
Lin tries to
return to the world she once knew, readers are swept into an effort
juxtaposes questions of sanity and insanity with cultural perspectives
their influences on reality and what makes for humanity in an era of
modifications and manipulations.
solidified by an attention to scientific and psychological detail and
protagonist's desperate attempt to use her memoir to get at the heart
is happening not just to her; but to the world.
to this story is the myriad of subplots running through it. From
mental illness and scientific ethics and experiments to computer
compulsive work habits, secret hideouts, and confidential patient
compromised by madness and special purposes, the thriller elements are
result is a
fantastic, thought-provoking read about rehabilitation, scientific
and the cost of progress on the heart and mind of a woman determined to
survive. Thriller readers who enjoy edgy science and more than a light
psychological inspection will find Lin's story compellingly hard to put
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in a Web
Black Rose Writing
Caught in a Web is a detective piece revolving around drugs, gangs, and deception; and considers the investigations and actions of sheriff detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor, and Paul Eiselmann, who find themselves in over their heads.
noted that the story opens with violence against teens. Detective story
enthusiasts who are queasy about the prospect of drugs, teens, and
wish to look elsewhere, because no punches are pulled in the making of Caught
in a Web. That said, the descriptions are in keeping with the
events and in no way are over-dramatized or over-embellished.
the bodies of
middle school and high school kids who have overdosed mount, the race
is on to
quash a violent gang from El Salvador and, specifically, gang leader
Fuentes, who is sent to find out what gang is cutting in on their
also harbors a motive for personal revenge that involves locating and
fifteen-year-old George Tokay, who murdered his cousin.
subplots proffers a level of complexity not usually seen in detective
Characters often question if they are doing the right thing, are often
between cops and bad guys, and teens explore their emotions and
against the backdrop of threats and murders.
As the investigators
review relationships, affairs, and threats, they find themselves
ever-increasing web of deception as readers are carried into a
underworld of gang violence and teen involvements which gradually lead
resolution where characters may fudge on honesty, but tie up loose ends.
many, but are well-drawn; the action offers just the right blend of
intrigue; and detective story enthusiasts will especially relish the
emotional inquiry which makes the characters both human and believable.
result is an
involving detective piece that probes the worlds of teens and gang
an equal attention to precise, staccato details that flow smoothly into
that creates a satisfying conclusion to all conundrums.
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Death's White Horses
ASIN: B00J9HKS6Q $11.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Death's White Horses returns federal
prosecutor Jeff Trask to the
limelight of yet another investigation; and while prior fans may wonder
could follow and possibly top his prior death-defying experiences
serial killer and a gang), Death's White
Horses ups the ante in a challenge involving a series of
attacks on his
team by a ruthless drug cartel that refuses to be stopped.
surrounding Mexico’s cartel wars, Death's
White Horses provides a timely consideration of border
trafficking across the U.S. border, and underlying issues of justice,
and moral challenges; creating a fast-paced, moving story that centers
upon fundamental law enforcement and prosecution issues as on physical
intellectual approach to the usual crime story and creates a depth that
leisure readers to think beyond the thriller story surrounding Jeff
his team's challenges.
There is a big difference between contrived concepts of 'war' and actual crimes big and small, as Marc Rainer points out in his tale. Under certain circumstances, police actions and war can merge purposes. Actual Mexican politics and social struggles are woven into the story line, giving it both a refreshing and a realistic perspective as Jeff Trask and his team face revolutionary heroes, military might, changing rules of engagement, and the impact of historical precedent on modern-day actions and reactions.
and their marketing at the center of this engrossing drama, readers
are thus treated to an entertaining thriller packed with action and a
thought-provoking series of encounters on both sides of the border.
find Death's White Horses an
blend of political, social, and legal commentary in a thriller that
readers thinking long past the saga's long road to justice.
Death's White Horses is highly
recommended reading for those who
like their thrillers based in reality and steeped in issues that
real-world conundrums, with action moving from courtroom to streets at
staccato pace, but swiftly enough to capture attention and allow time
reflection along the way.
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T.E. Stouyer, Publisher
978-1-9999649-1-7 $0.99 Kindle/$9.99 Paper
Eritis: The Silver Strand Legacy
introduces ex-soldier Nate
Kincade, who faces years in a military prison until a mysterious
gets all charges dismissed in exchange for his help tracking down a
and right up Nate's alley; but Kincade and his team know that being a
is not about tackling cut-and-dried assignments. As the situation
complicated with a Berlin female detective's case which hits too close
and a killer on the loose which draws an international force together,
enjoy stories where detective investigations become entwined with
intrigue will relish the many characters and complex story of Eritis: The Silver Strand Legacy.
concern about keeping his team out of prison blends with the story of a
case and a larger prize than he'd anticipated; with more at stake than
prison or freedom.
caught up in the swift action of this fast-paced thriller as they
towards a precipice of crime organizations and villains and mercenaries
and complex subplots keep Eritis: The
Silver Strand Legacy charging to its unexpected conclusion,
delight those who like their thrillers laced with detective-style
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Stony Hill Publishers
sees Dr. "Cat" Powers return to again confront a threat to her young
son by one Eric, who has found a companion killer to share his penchant
torturing women. But a serial killer's return isn't all that's going on
Eric's passion for punishment is conducted against the backdrop of
which ravage southern California, the ongoing issues of sexual
the workplace, Cat's conflict in priorities between her job and her
the ongoing psychological impact of son Joey's kidnapping a year ago.
coincidence that a killer's work and an arsonist's hand are threatening
change the landscape of her beloved Southern California home? Cat is
to obtain justice at all costs and save everything she loves in the
leads to David's firestorm responses and his desire to, like Eric, be
control all the time (especially over women), one deadly force becomes
people who wield destruction over not just women but their
controlling and manipulating it with a dangerously deft hand. Cat
it is all going to end. The bodies keep piling up as she spins her
to detail provides exquisite tension and riveting moments, the real
Firestorm lies not just in the investigative process
or progression of
events, but in the methodical way Solange Ritchie enters the mind of a
exposing his thoughts about women and his mentor's influence.
forensic pathology to give voice to victims by telling the stories of
She will avenge their deaths and fights to expose the truth. But in
she's exposing truths about the killer's psyche as much as her own
and life; and Ritche's attention to exposing the details in her process
a delightfully complex read.
an investigative process steeped in psychological insights and breaks
and reason will relish Firestorm's ability to touch
upon the deeper
passions in character hearts and minds. Ultimately, it is these
connections which drive the superior story line, and which add the
compelling interest that makes Firestorm a
memorable and thoroughly
engrossing murder mystery read.
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Thomas & Mercer
Michael Pitcher discovers an object in the Afghan mountains
that not only
impacts his health, but changes his personality. Returned home for an
evaluation, Michael seems ok; but he is distant from his wife and soon
their bank accounts and vanishes, as do the team of scientists
of the most puzzling disappearances of his career, CIA agent Dean
finds himself embroiled in a mystery steeped in the possibility that
something has discovered how to hack into the human mind and influence
backdrop of the ongoing War on Terror evolves a different kind of
holds vast implications not just for military engagement, but for the
the human race.
would be engaging enough with just these thriller elements at the
but ex-military man and author Brian Andrews peppers his account with
insights into the armed services and its culture which bring the story
on many different levels, including the perspective of an Army wife: "Army
wives didn’t get a vote. Neither did soldiers for that matter. The
defender of freedom and the American way, was a juggernaut, indifferent
unrelenting. There were only three choices: get on board for the ride,
over, or get left behind. Willie Barnes had long since been left
blossoms from the microcosm of military experience into a broader
a new deadly, missing weapon and its potential to change everything,
readers are swept into a tense and satisfyingly riveting account.
doppelganger, a lasting consequence of his interaction with an orb, is
transforming his impulses, perspectives, and ability to remain human.
point, a sacrificial lamb might be required to reset everything again.
lamb won't be one prepared for the job.
scientific intrigue, military interactions and culture both within and
of the forces, and the desperate attempts of two skilled agents facing
far beyond even their powerful abilities makes for a gripping thriller
hard to put down.
the scientific and military aspects of intrigue kept in the foreground
complimented by a host of realistic, solid characters will relish the
action-paced Reset as a powerful story not just of
intrigue, but of
extinction events and the value of humanity on Earth.
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Independently Published $2.99
Website/ordering Link: mybook.to/serenitymurder
The Serenity Murder is Book 3 in the Luca
series, and tells of a
wealthy woman murdered on a private island. The tale opens with
perspective as he lives an estranged life with Marilyn at Serenity
House on the
island, contemplates a divorce that would allow him to keep his place
house and his beloved artwork, and Marilyn's decision to lock him out
everything he loves.
chapter, motivation is established ("I’d
hated her for years and thought endlessly about killing her. It was
finally do it.") and the only thing that seems unpredictable
act of murder and the actions of one investigator determined to solve
is this truly the case?
their fill of the spoiled, spoon-fed Marilyn. Aside from the obvious
there are others equally motivated to see her gone. And just as Gideon
his plans, so others may be involved in countermeasures.
contrive a murder that doesn't implicate him? When he faces Marilyn's
confession that his own disappearance would solve many problems for
take a surprising and different turn.
By the time
enters the picture, things have gone awry in more than one way,
island home's serenity and challenging his investigative skills: "It was a magnificent home, the nicest
I’d ever been in. There were a lot of interesting pictures hanging with
lights over them. But it wasn’t like the place was a museum. It was
explain; you just knew it was expensive, but it wasn’t gaudy. It was,
me, serene. Well, all that serenity was broken, as usual, by human
gone off the rails."
The appeal of Dan Petrosini's story lies not so much in a standard murder whodunit but in his approach to building competing motivations for murder from different angles and different character perspectives. Readers are along for a interesting delve into fine wines, rich people, and a host of special interests which weave a strong story line and keep readers guessing about the outcome and Luca's ability to get at the heart of what's really going on.
to interesting descriptions enhances the story line ("According
to the autopsy, he was
lying. Tucking the deception into a mind file, I moved on.")
brings the investigative process and its conundrums to life.
a well-rounded and engrossing attention to detail as characters dance
each other and the world of the rich will find The
Serenity Murder a powerful, compelling tale that centers
what happens when a clearly guilty perp faces too much competition and
detective is forced to trust his sense something is not quite right
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A Summer Again
George Rothery, Publisher
'Mister Halston' thriller takes place on an island off New Jersey,
romance, international intrigue, and mystery, and opens on the day a
a major change in his life, selling his long-held, successful business
company that's wooed him for years. After gifting long-time and loyal
employees, he's free to pursue other interests; and these revolve
around a life
of travel and adventure.
What Greg Halston doesn't
know is that this new life also
involves returning to old habits, old friends, and too-familiar
it's about to get even more complicated when he returns to one place
past, only to find a rekindled romance and a series of events that
spying, puzzles, and self-destructive choices that are instinctual
It's a good thing Greg has
left his successful business
behind; because his life is getting complicated. Two women occupy his
(one new; one from his past) and pose increasingly thorny romantic
he adopts the new habit of carrying a gun after a Middle Eastern foe
his safety; and his encounters with naval intelligence bring to mind
from his military days. Moreover, Greg becomes involved in an operation
holds dire consequences for everyone around him, including a Russian
Fans of thrillers that offer
more than a light dose of
romance, intrigue, and international encounters will find A Summer Again's story line robust,
fast-paced, and hard to put
down as Greg races towards new beginnings, dubious relationships, and a
of events destined to either come full circle or end in disaster.
Characterization and plot
are strong; but it's the
winding maze of intrigue that keeps readers guessing and racing
as he uncovers answers, creating a vivid and engrossing read.
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978-1973444008 $10.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
The Last Straw provides thriller fans with the powerful story of
teen Sandra, who
witnesses a carjacking and murder and faces a crime boss who targets
black lawyer Paul Elliott, who has been accused more than once that he "...never
seems to have any sympathy for the victim” in his cases.
not only challenges that perception, but immerses him in the dilemma of
girl's life and the law enforcement and legal processes charged with
her safe against all odds.
strengths of The Last Straw lies in the fact that
Ed Duncan focuses on
the psyches of all the characters, revealing their motivations, truths,
and belief systems as the story progresses: "She accepted his
of what happened because she desperately wanted and needed to believe
told herself that she could not have raised a murderer. Because that
was not an
option, he had to be telling the truth, or at least some version of it."
reader sympathy towards all the characters as they interact, clash, and
on bumpy rides towards inevitable confrontations and life-changing
is a hit
man charged with keeping his personal feelings out of his job; but that
changes as he's faced with attacks on those around him: "Although
outwardly calm, he was still furious. In his business projecting a calm
exterior wasn’t enough. To be at the top of his game, he had to rein in
emotions completely. It didn’t matter that this was personal. In order
what he needed to do, he had to regain his detachment, something he
different men, Rico and Paul, seem polar opposites in many ways; but
charged with distancing themselves from the often-wrenching truths
very different professions. When they tangle, justice and truth run
into danger and a convoluted murder plot that threatens them both.
The Last Straw is the second book in the 'Pigeon-Blood Red'
series. The first has not
been read by this reviewer. No prior familiarity with the first book is
required in order to easily absorb and become immersed in the ethical
of the two main characters in this second thriller.
suspenseful action, twists and turns that prove satisfyingly
an attention to creating full-faceted characters (whether they be women
victims or investigators, or hitmen) lends to an absorbing read highly
recommended for those who like their thrillers complex and their
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pages of Bollywood Invasion present what first
appears to be an ordinary
story of John Palmieri, a Brooklyn boy who is leading an average life
he's hit by a bus and awakens in another body as Raj Scindia, a prince
in India in 1958. He's suddenly wealthy, privileged, and living quite a
different life from modern-day Brooklyn. Only his intense love for The
has survived his transformation as he adapts to an entirely new culture
timeline; and it's that love which will lead to further changes because
one he can't leave behind, in his old life.
possibilities of love and making a positive impact on his world, he
lyrics of the Beatles continue to direct his life, even though in this
incarnation, they never existed. And when his choices bring everything
crashing into disaster ten years later, these songs and the values they
in his new identity may be the only thing to link the former John's
with Raj's struggle to survive.
would be all
too easy to say that Bollywood Invasion is a
timeslip novel that centers
around a boy's struggle to regain his position and former world; but in
actuality it's a saga of a struggle for identity that assumes a special
of complexity when two personas clash and their owner becomes lost
he living a
lie, or dreaming? Which world is real; and which is his choice? As Raj
the incarnation of John Lennon in another place and time, bringing the
of his future self into the past where they are received and
much enthusiasm and gusto, he also faces many conundrums, such as two
love him and the dilemma of one of them being promised to another.
His reincarnation of the music of the 'Beetos' in this timestream leads to many changes as Ricardo Alexanders provides a satisfying focus on love, fame, complicated situations, and the values of Indian girls and the men who pursue them.
result is a
complex and vivid story that leads Raj/John around the world and across
probing the unexpected consequences of coming full circle with a story
challenges not only the protagonist's true identity, but the
surrounding John Lennon's life, death, and own incongruities (“You
songs imagining no possessions but have millions of dollars and
for timeslip sagas that go beyond the usual focus on finding a way back
finding the path to one's identity will relish the very different
that make Bollywood Invasion an engrossing saga
that excels in
unexpected turns of plot.
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The Devil’s Chaplain
Swallow Tail Press
Trade paperback edition, 978-0999756409 $12.95
Library edition, 978-1987490688 $12.95
Christopher Ritter's time is almost up. He's
a Death Row inmate slated for execution. His young, female,
attorney's only hope of staying his execution is a legal defense nearly
impossible to achieve, made all the more complicated because Chris is
willing to admit his guilt in a range of matters outside of the crime
accused of than to defend his own innocence.
What evolves in The
Devil's Chaplain is more than a legal quandary or a story of
justice: it's a tale of moral, ethical, and psychological challenges to
individual survival and social systems; and in the course of following
Christopher's convoluted logic and questionable experiences, the plot
readers to think about the real processes of guilt, innocence, crime,
On many levels, Christopher's case stands at
the crossroads of pro-life and justice, representing the extreme edge
consequences for actions that challenge life itself. And what do
refugee witnesses (people Chris is adamantly opposed to involving, even
his life) have to do with matters?
A hornet's nest of possibilities and danger
emerges as Charlotte embarks on a path that could save her client's
stay execution, finding that the clues lead to a host of situations
taken together, help explain why her puzzling client is so reluctant to
her save his life.
And then, there's Charlotte's own challenges
from the public as she defends someone who might be a deadly killer: "Save a life! God bless you!” one man
shouted. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” yelled the puffy-haired
The yin/yang of her actions and the juxtaposition of those who believe
side of the question of whether Christopher should live or die makes
engrossing passages that lead readers to consider their own values and
influences on life and death choices.
The Devil's Chaplain
also provides a graphic moment-by-moment portrayal of a death row
many levels, it's a read that challenges one's emotions and ethics even
the false comfort of a chaplain who is assigned to make the accused
feel like a
"collaborator in his own execution".
Readers of legal thrillers who like cases
that are not cut-and-dried but filled with satisfying twists and much
thought will find The Devil's Chaplain
a powerfully-wrought inspection of not just legal processes, but social
revolving around murder, redemption, punishment, and resolve. It's a
engrossing inspection that's hard to put down: a riveting story that
clues so elusive that the tension is exquisitely drawn.
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Room: A Novel
An explosion in Vietnam devastates a Marine fireteam sent to a village to investigate the possibility of a bomb depot's presence there. Only one of the five-man unit survives. Grossly disfigured, who is he? Burned beyond recognition, suffering from amnesia, and unable to speak, he has no more insight than anyone around him. But people back home in West Virginia are convinced they know, and a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
At first glance, In An Empty Room seems like another Vietnam survivor story, but take a closer look. Think Johnny Got His Gun, another tale of war's deadly impact on those who live through it, then add an introduction which begins with chapter profiles of the perspectives of the five original men who contemplate what constitutes humanity, lends credence and value to their lives, and has led to their mission in Vietnam.
Passages are packed with reflections on not just their participation in Vietnam, but the elements of war which contribute to their humanity or inhumanity ("All wars are us against them, the sanctified and blessed against the unholy and damned, the civilized against the wogs and barbarians. We demonize our enemy, making him less human than ourselves so we can kill him without guilt."), the impact of weaponry that increasingly distances the killer from the humans he kills ("With each step in the evolution of weapons the simultaneous expansion of behavioral space allowed killing to occur at increasingly greater distances while remaining extensions of us as part of the body schema."), and the effects of distancing oneself from body and mind over the ability to kill and survive ("If the illusion is all-encompassing then so are discomfort and pain, guilt and sorrow and delight, the fear of dying so excruciating as to seem transcendent, like a fleeting synesthesia arising from the foul odor of a dream.").
After introductory chapters provide biographical sketches and philosophical reflections, In An Empty Room takes an even darker turn in Part Two, revealing a coal mining camp where the unlucky amnesiac survivor has returned to a putative home he can't recall. A host of other characters receive their own chapters summarizing their lives, hopes, and dreams.
By now it should be evident that In An Empty Room, though comparable in some ways to Johnny Got His Gun, doesn't begin and end with one man's broken body and isolation, but embraces other lives and perceptions of life's meaning and challenges in the face of war and peace. Those expecting yet another singular Vietnam War soldier's experience will be in for a surprise, because as much takes place at home in the small West Virginia coal mining town as it does before and after the explosion changes everything.
Each character's perspective adds a philosophical, moral, and ethical inspection to life's processes. This means that readers expecting an adventure-packed Vietnam War saga should look elsewhere. The adventure here lies just as much in inner space and psychological development as it does in the series of events that lead the protagonist far from his life-changing Vietnam encounter.
The result is a powerful and highly recommended story of a man broken and changed, the world he returns to, and a series of characters who enter his life to change it forever, exploring the theme of disruption from cultural, ethical, military and psychological perspectives through the eyes and hearts of myriad characters.
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The Key of F
Rogue Phoenix Press
978-1-62420-258-9 $4.99 ebook/$12.99 Paper
The Key of F is the first book in the
Freedom Fight trilogy and introduces
orphan Fale, who seeks a peaceful life after her parents are murdered.
training with her adoptive father also directs her to become a
supporting her vision of leading a life that reflects the peace process.
hold up to
her goals in this fantasy saga is the turbulent environment around her
stems from sudden visions of the future, which appear on her 18th
redirect her purpose in life.
glance The Key of F would seem to
add to the
teen dystopian genre with many of the trappings of better-known,
similar-sounding titles involving a teen's maturity process, newfound
powers, an evolving romance with a peer, and a confrontation with an
social system. There are simply too many 'clones' of these themes in
fantasy literature, these days.
But The Key of F offers many more facets
than most of its genre peers: among them, a fast-paced plot filled with
unpredictable changes that keeps readers on their toes; a focus on how
a teen leading
a normal life suddenly discovers strange new abilities and an
purpose to goals she's taken for granted all her life; and a series of
consequences that stem from her decision to use her power to thwart
the evolving romance between Fale and the charismatic yet elusive Karon
chafe at how a strong woman's newfound purpose too easily seems to be
into mushy clichés during the course of their relationship; but soft: The Key of F is about much more than
young love. Scenes present the give-and-take of romance's realities and
illusions, as in this revelation: "Fale
was uneasy as his eyes narrowed. Was he trying to bait her? What
happened to the sweet Keron from earlier?"
which is tempered by a shy acknowledgement of her growing ability to
affect another, just a paragraph later: "She loved seeing she
affect him, too. It made her feel powerful."
It's about a
woman making mistakes, recognizing her strengths, suffering from her
and some of her choices, and, yes, infatuations and maturing during the
of facing adult situations. As Fale connects with the things that make
powerful in her life, so readers are introduced to a rich world filled
satisfying descriptions, social and political challenges, and the story
girl on the cusp of adulthood who is charged with not only moving into
adult circles and handling her emotions, but possibly changing the
The Key of F is a powerful read that will
appeal to mature teens,
new adults, and any fantasy reader who can accept sometimes-mushy
interludes as part of a young girl's maturation process.
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The Nanny Song presents
twenty-two-year-old Mallory Riscoe, whose
younger years have been ones of chaos, but who finally seems to have
these negative influences until she finds herself falsely accused of
is fired from her job.
is in a
very different situation: his wife has died and he struggles with his
grief, and some closely-held secrets. When Mallory accepts the job of
his kids and moves in, two very different individuals find their lives
children, and adults struggling to put their lives together coalesce in
course of The Nanny Song, which
creates a satisfying portrait of two people struggling in different
responsibilities to themselves and those around them.
important note is
that the characters are tackling both their personal issues and those
spill out into the wider world and upon each other; and this makes for
realistic scenarios and encounters that paint no single individual as a
force with all the answers to life.
new job as
nanny is not a piece of cake. She's continually facing challenges to
abilities and authority on many levels, and her interactions with the
Brandon are both realistic and absorbing, spiced with the addition of a
that lends additional depth and detail to the story line.
the fact that emotions are explored on all sides; not just Mallory and
feelings. Kids receive their own moments in the spotlight during the
well: "Brendan looked to Mallory as
if he wanted her to fill in the blanks. She knew she should tell him
about what Kason had confessed to her, but she wasn’t sure if this
right in front of the poor, sullen boy, was the time to do it. “That’s
told me as well when I picked him up from school.” Kason showed almost
relief, thinking the nanny was going to keep his secret."
in cleaning up situations between Brandon, his mother, and his
also in her own life and her approach to her future. Almost
romance is in the wind; but this seems almost an afterthought to the
story of disparate individuals, kids, and lives coming together in
new ways to change everyone involved.
scent of pop tarts and a nanny's role in a lively household to evolving
relationships and connections and Mallory's growing commitment beyond
responsibilities to this crazy family in chaos, The
Nanny Song creates a tumultuous story of change and pays
attention to the perceptions of adults and children alike. It's highly
recommended for readers who want a lively story of dysfunction,
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V. G. Kilgore
978-1546343301 $9.00 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
of an Old Testament story offers a different perspective of events
Noah's Ark which focuses not just on Noah's mission; but upon his son
has been at odds with his family since he fell in love with Lita and
her against their wishes.
is a rebel.
Marriage doesn't change his stormy relationships, and the coming flood
Noah's charge to build the Ark that will save them all only causes
clashes between father and son as Noah's youngest son harbors dubious
about the relationship between God and his father, and consistently
readers will certainly be the audience for Obedience,
it should be
mentioned that the powerful saga of family relationships complicated by
spiritual edicts ideally will reach beyond Christian circles, as it
tone and approach that more singular retellings of Biblical events
partially due to V. G. Kilgore's attention to not just Christian
Biblical scenes; but to underlying relationships and influences on
behavior that lend a powerfully evocative tone to this retelling. It
readers think not just about God and the Ark, but about simmering
relationships that come to a spiritual and psychological head under
quarters and a struggle to survive devastation.
format, a work of fiction, allows the rich flavors of emotion to rise
forefront as it retraces Biblical events. How does one live on an ark
savage animals? What actions are undertaken to ensure the ark doesn't
Passages are vividly described and nicely develop the story as the ark
struggles, and the people and animals aboard it face numerous
physical, emotional and spiritual survival: "She peeked out
doorway. It was the throng she had observed that first day in reverse,
remnants of the Animal Kingdom, jostling toward the exit from their
sedated confinement. She gasped as she saw Ham approach the large,
cats with an axe. He sloshed through the ankle-deep water to another
hacked an opening in it, out of which the animals sprang and quickly
revelations and moments are just as poignant and immediate ("He
brought rain that had wiped off all life but theirs. Surely, He could
Or was He just a God of death, not life?") and address some
basic challenges to faith.
faith, sacrifice, diligence, relationships between parents, children,
lovers, and higher callings all coalesce in a powerful retelling that
prove riveting and hard to put down even for those well familiar with
Biblical story. Best of all, Obedience makes the
reader think about
Biblical events and faith in a deeper way, lending to its use as a
and discussion point and making it very highly recommended, indeed. To
simply: there's a lot more going on, here, than a man's faith in
ark to save humanity under God's direction.
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Red Skye Press
Odette's Song: Music is Life is a song of
tribute, opening with an
introduction that captures the story's lyrical blend of
reflection and life: "My father had
two obsessions: music and my mother. They were so bound together that
was the soundtrack of his youth. I was six years old the first time I
expect the novel to follow a child's evolving relationship with his
but protagonist Nico is 38 years old, an abject failure in life, admits
having hurt his mother multiple times with his venture into drugs, and
facing both his loved one's death and the custody of Hunter, Odette's
Nico is an
often-irresponsible musician: what is he going to do with a
response to the possibility that he have a committed relationship with
real legacy is stark: "I’m halfway
to hell now; that’ll send me all the way there.”
Nico's relationship with the deceased Odette was fire and ice, with music binding them together against all odds. What possible connection can he make with her child that, to him, represents a lost cause; much as he views himself?
continues in her progeny as Nico faces a new career and possibilities
clash with his innate misery as a musician walking on the darker side
A judge will ultimately determine Hunter's fate. Will Nico become
enough to allow Hunter into his life? Ultimately, it all boils down to
honesty with both himself and the impact of Odette's legacy.
Odette's Song is about growing up,
responsibility, a lost child
facing two very different families, and a savvy judge's ability to see
two very different personas to act in the interests of all. It
proceedings with psychological revelations that lead to transformation,
offers no pat, cut-and-dry answers.
through many things; not the least of which is his own ability to
through on commitments to be responsible for another's life. As readers
the impact of Odette's Song and its
family-driven messages, they will especially appreciate A.G. Russo's
to building a story that is complex and embraces the extent and results
jealousy, betrayal, and interconnected lives.
stories of family struggles and connections will relish Odette's
Song for its realistic grasp on the basics of life and
meaningful relationships, and for insights that move beyond courtroom
into the psyches of all involved.
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A baking competition
attracts actual chefs, and amateurs
who harbor secret dreams of being more than home cooks in Undercover Chefs. Here, a cupcake contest
ensnares three disparate
chef wanna-bes: a shy artist, a famous athlete, and a scooter rider
limited ambitions in life.
As the three form
relationships and dance around each
other and new possibilities in the culinary world, their contest moves
classroom and stovetop and into real life as they reassess their
ambitions, and each other.
On the surface, Undercover
Chefs is a story about kids and changing lives; but spiced by
events (the author's son's life was also changed by a cupcake-baking
broadens and deepens into so much more. For one thing, a flavor of
through the story line: "Isaac was
only in sixth grade and one of the youngest runners there, but he
to turn around to know he was far ahead of everybody else on the middle
team. If he pushed, he could probably break five minutes and thirty
His mom would be happy. Coach would rejoice. The finish line was close.
should probably start sprinting. Instead, Isaac thought about brownies.
been experimenting with a new frosting for a few weeks now. He used
cheese, powdered sugar, and some heavy whipping cream. But something
missing. Maybe if he added a pinch of ginger. Yes, ginger. That was it!"
Whether she's describing
cupcakes or emotions, Erin Fry's
descriptions are deliciously precise and appealing, from the
descriptions of a young runner nobody can keep up with to J.C.'s
responsibilities towards his younger siblings at home.
Another notable aspect of
the story is how a contest throws
three very different personalities together, where their interactions
them not just about baking and competition, but about each others' very
different lives. Fry's subtle descriptions are pleasing contrasts to
majority of story lines which seem to have forgotten the power of
the "show it, don't just say it" approach ("Jane
smiled—slowly, like her smile had to decide if it was safe
to come out.")
When The Cupcake Team faces
a crisis and finds they can
only rely on each other for support, the real changes and competition
a moving story laced with fine food, fine lines, and a close attention
psychological interactions as the three disparate kids struggle to grow
recognize their talents.
The result is a compelling
story that will prove a
satisfyingly different leisure read for advanced elementary through
school grades and beyond. Undercover
Chefs is a story not just of competition and the culinary
world, but how
these different contestants mature and change for the better, learning
grow into not only their skills, but their hearts.
Very highly recommended!
Return to Index
Happened to Ohio?
Battered Suitcase Press
ASIN: B079SZJ3VZ $3.99 Kindle
like weddings and funerals, often bring out the best, worst, and most
behaviors in people—but not usually as bizarre as the scenario
described in Whatever
Happened to Ohio?, where aliens and monsters are only the
start of an
intergalactic romp that moves directly from altar to alternate universe.
mayhem, there's a drug-dealing doc in bunny slippers, an Ohio
Celebration's ragtag of odd personalities, and Debbie's funny
(during a yoga 'recharging' attempt) about her likely future after
to empty her mind was futile. Sentences for the wedding gift thank-you
her mother said must be completed before the wedding kept cropping up,
with the dreaded question of what work she’d be able to find in or
Neville after the honeymoon and whether she’d be able to stand it. She
enter the local work force, equipped with her split college major in
studies and creative writing — best qualified, Phil said, to write
reviews for the Times in nearby Salem City, which didn’t publish them.
wasn’t really funny."
pairs small-town life with an attention to fantastic events confronting
Americans, employing a heavy hand on Ohio-centric touches that keep the
firmly grounded even as it quickly moves into fantastic arenas: "An
octogenarian barbershop quartet, dapper in flat-topped straw boaters,
sports coats, and white buck shoes, sang for the crowd gathering on the
courthouse lawn in New Jerusalem, Ohio, for the Frontier Wedding..."
humor running through the story line comes from more than aliens,
appealing, hilarious tone to such events as a hot air balloon
encounter with airport authorities: "At eight hundred feet,
on the flashing red and white lights on the bottom of the gondola and
radio contact with the Indianapolis airport tower: “Am I visible to you
people?” “Unfortunately, yes,” said the air controller. “How soon do
to be invisible?” “I’m just going with the flow.”
“Yes. May you have a long life.”
Bob’s jocular response was undeliverable,
because his UHF radio had gone dead."
The story is 'Our Town' on steroids, because 'expect the unexpected' is one of this wacky tale's themes, and is exactly what keeps it moving in satisfyingly different directions.
result is a very, very highly recommended read for those who love a
of humor, irony, and wild encounters in the course of their stories: a
small-town America that butts firmly into magic realism, laced with a
of satirical observation throughout.
Return to Index
The $20,000 T-Shirt
Eighty Orchard Publishing
The $20,000 T-Shirt:
Lessons (and Fart Stories) from the Greatest Father the World Has Ever
is a parenting book like no other, featuring a candid assessment of a
forced to examine the life lessons he was (or was not) teaching his
Before this point, Devon Weaver specialized
in potty humor, just like his father had. Deeper wisdom and
designed to reveal a sense of purpose, self, and life inspection were
by a form of communication with his kids that eschewed real
information in favor of shallow approaches that fell short of meaning.
The $20,000 T-Shirt
is Devon's response to his shortcomings, and publishes a book
intended to be a Christmas present just for his two children; not for
public eye. His intention is clarified in the book's introduction, and
follows through on his promise with every page: "Over
the years, be sure to come back to this book. Revisit it like an
old friend. Keep it close by. I plan to be in your life for many years,
you’ll always have my words and thoughts with you regardless of what
have a great life, but I desperately want yours to be head and
mine. I hope this helps."
Thankfully, his effort evolved into
something the wider world can appreciate, passing to his kids (and now
what Weaver "knows to be true" about life and his place in it.
Vignettes come from Weaver's own life
lessons and pair well with insights on not only what he learned from
experiences, but how they impacted his worldview; as when he explores
aftermath of getting a speeding ticket: "Being
early is a sign that this event, interview, date, job, etc., is
important to you. It was significant enough for you to plan your
ahead of time. You didn’t come rushing in 100 miles per hour to try to
deadline. When you’re early, you can make wrong turns in the car
(happens to me
all the time), circle the parking lot looking for an ideal spot (yup,
too), and still get there in plenty of time. Look at your phone while
People watch. It’s easy to kill time if you must."
But Weaver doesn't limit his insights to his
own life lessons: he observes how others survive and thrive and
these insights into this book/letter: "In
the 1980s, the Colombian drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar, was once the most
notorious, and richest, man in the world. The federales were always
Every safe house he inhabited had multiple escape routes. Normally, I wouldn’t
recommend taking advice
from a murderous drug overlord, but don’t discount their methods of
He persevered and thrived because he was several moves ahead of
a 3D chess master. He made his own path and played his own game. He
follow other cows into the slaughterhouse. And you shouldn’t either."
What differentiates The
$20,000 T-Shirt from other parenting or advice guides is its
attention to linking the author's knowledge with bigger pictures based
on a range
of experiences. Specific strategies are provided, rather than
these form the heart of a powerful guide packed with solid advice that
shouldn't be limited to young adult readers alone: "The
key to accomplishing the gigantic is breaking it down into the
teeny weeniest bite-size segments. When examining his next big thing,
Godin in Tools of Titans thinks, “What’s the smallest possible
footprint I can
get away with? What is the smallest possible project that is worth my
because smallest is achievable.” Tony Robbins has a similar approach:
target closer. Don’t look at the end result. You’ll never start. Build
confidence with the mundane and easy. Got that. Okay. Bump up the
level a tad. Then more. And more. Suddenly, after incremental
you’re slaying the big boss to finish the game, something inconceivable
you first started. I designed a method to keep me focused on the small,
crucial, elements of each project. I call it the Chunky Bucket
Calendar, and it
has really helped me to boil down some gnarly projects into achievable
The $20,000 T-Shirt
is a highly recommended pick that parents can give their teens and read
together with them: a series of life lessons that are witty, chatty,
and hard-hitting, all in one.
Return to Index
The Thirteen: Ashi-Niswi
Lorin R. Robinson
978-1-948598-05-7 $15.95 soft cover; $7.99 ebook
Website/Ordering Link: http://www.open-bks.com/library/open-library.html and all on-line book sellers
The Thirteen: Ashi-Niswi centers on 13 Native American Anishinaabe teens—living in a “time before time,” a world yet to be influenced by white culture. Ignoring the mandate of their elders, they embark on a mission of revenge after Dakota raiders ravage their village.
It is a solid story of native interactions—pre-white man—that captures the thoughts, sentiments and determination of this band of young men to regain—at whatever cost—the honor of their band. This work of historical fiction proves particularly delightful because there are surprisingly few native stories that take place before the white man's arrival and eventual dominance over tribal interactions and affairs.
A preface sets the foundations for the tale
that takes place after the Anishinaabe (later named Ojibwe by the
French), received a spiritual edict to migrate from their
homeland and into unfamiliar territory—to a land where, mysteriously,
grows upon the water.” They were warned that a tribe of white-skinned
from across the ocean was coming and would destroy their way of life.
The journey, which begins after 1,000 A.D., takes many generations and is fraught with danger. When they reach the Lake Superior region—and find the wild rice that signals the end of their migration—they encounter the native Dakota (later renamed Sioux) and a long and bloody conflict results, the heart of this tale.
The narration of events by a teen, Aajim, is
nicely done and offers excellent perspectives on events both immediate
viewed retrospectively from his vantage point as Akiwenzil, Old Man,
the story of The Thirteen. He
into very old age because he becomes a slave to the story, expected to
retell it at annual tribal gatherings.
His accounts of the youthful war party’s trials and
The tale is also one of Aajim’s coming-of-age as he struggles to deal with the aftermath of the quest for honor and the question of honor itself: “How can killing or being killed by Dakota… restore our honor? In any case, this was not ours to do. The honorable thing for us would have been to live to become men, to live to marry and raise families, to live to work for the betterment of our band."
Readers will enjoy a close inspection of the cultural, psychological and physical landscapes of these original Americans as they struggle to fulfill their destinies and deal with philosophical questions that are as relevant today as they were then. Under Lorin R. Robinson's hand, strengthened by its foundations in historical fact, the story rings with authenticity.
The result is a moving novel
recommended—because of its depictions of violence; always in taste, but
ever-present—to adult readers interested in strong tales that take
facts and weave them into the kinds of compelling stories that
underlying influences on choices and actions.
Wherein lies honor and meaning in life? That is the
posed and eventually answered, in a gripping adventure about cultural
Return to Index
Eat What You
Stop When You Want!
Sora Vernikoff, M.A., M.S.
Green Mind Press
978-0692850237 $24.95 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Eat What You Want! Stop When You Want!
comes from an author who
struggled with her own weight issues, and who used her background as an
educator to create a workbook of weight management approaches that
most other treatments on the market.
decided to stop dieting and instead kept a journal of all her eating
But her approach didn't stop there: she decided to apply her very
classroom management techniques to managing food after reaching her
goals without any dieting involved.
this workbook; which of necessity involves an interactive approach as
encourages her readers to identify when
they do and do not think about food, how
they think about food differently, and how to use the power of thinking
change eating impulses.
this new approach is the author's insights on the "Food-Thought
Struggle" which affects food cravings and what is eaten or what feels
satisfying (or not). It's a simple set of routines anyone can follow ("But before I buy or have it, I have
to ask myself: “Do I want to stop myself or not?” Then I have to wait
answer to arrive.")
illustrations, and examples of each step of revised thinking processes
easy to work through The Program and The Technique.
Because this program is all about employing a variety of techniques and self-assessment strategies, this 'no-diet system' involves much psychological inspection and is especially recommended for self-help 'foodies' interested in actively altering their perceptions of food. There are a number of courses to take, alternatives to consider, and strategies outlined under different circumstances ("At this point, The Program says that if you’ve tried The “Minimizer” Technique and you’ve tried The “4” Technique and you’re still struggling to reach your non-dieted weight loss goal then try Strategy #3, found below in Chart #8c which is called The “Boredom” Technique."), and while all are clearly explained, this process will better reach those actively engaged in their own transformation than readers who would receive step-by-step formulas.
achievement are also nicely outlined ("This will let you know
have stopped either your food or gum “eating” behavior.") in a set of explicit instructions highly
recommended for anyone interested in active food management that
revising habits, perceptions, and ideas of food, dieting, and
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Living an A+ Life in a C- World
Book Press Publishing
life was good. Then, everything changed. Now she's stuck in defeat,
trying to find
her way back to the joyful world she once perceived.
Finding Joy, Living
an A+ Life in a C- World is a
non-fiction self-help piece about
recovering self-esteem and transformative processes—but, surprisingly,
lies as much in testing perceptions of life and purpose as it does in
the kinds of steps that lead to recovery.
case, the CEO of her company doesn't just validate her feelings: she
simple questions that help set Carolyn on a different path in life, and
process is revealed in Finding Joy, Living an A+ Life in a C-
move from feeling like a victim (and having one's peers reinforce this
to feeling like a winner? It's the process of change which is the
and where other books would provide vague insights, Finding
the specifics missing from similar-sounding accounts.
with the CEO takes place in the second chapter: just enough time to
setting and background. "What did you ignore? What did you
What did you not deal with...." These are just a few of the
considerations that move Carolyn from a 'stuck' place of victimization
considering changes that make a lasting impact on her life.
rest of the
book focuses on her transformation process. While the story reads like
employing the dramatic embellishments and observations of fiction, the
actually a nonfiction account. The questions it poses are its strongest
feature; and as Carolyn faces them, so do her readers: "If I
ask you to grade your life in all areas one year ago, what grade would
When the difference in a
quality life lies between
dreaming big and staying stuck, what are the motivators and processes
A powerful saga emerges that draws in readers with the feel of a
third-person character, yet overlays her path to happiness with lessons
audience can easily employ and learn from.
Very highly recommended, Finding
Joy, Living an A+
Life in a C- World shows how to
extraordinary and build an exceptional life from a "grade C"
environment. Self-help, psychology, new age, and general-interest
find it equally enlightening and entertaining as they follow Carolyn's
self-discoveries and her specific insights on victim mindsets and paths
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Daniel A. Miller
Ebb and Flow Press
The Gifts of
Acceptance: Embracing People and Things
as They Are offers a pointed
perspective admonishing readers that life would be much improved if
accepted situations, other people, and life; and didn't spend so much
wishing things were different.
Miller well knows what he is talking about. Once he was a controlling
who not only wished things were different, but spent much time and
assuring that people and situations changed the way he wanted. As his
experiences in life prompted him to reconsider its direction, he became
educated on the concept of acceptance, its value, and the realities of
adjusting to negative and positive changes alike.
experiences blend with other case histories, unexpected humor, and tips
readers can acknowledge and practice habits which involve giving up
a good deal of belief in one's personal power in favor of an approach
that encourages reconciliation over conflict.
very clear in their approaches to potentially complex, confusing
how to accept losses brought about by change to facing conflicting
perspectives, actions, and negative forces in life. This is where many
about acceptance bog down: in providing the specifics of how to handle
degrading behaviors, toxic individuals, and social and political forces
beyond individual influence.
challenges to acceptance, from one's parents to setbacks and failure,
profiled in chapters that use case histories and author experiences to
illustrate the predicament and the contrast between controlling and
result is an
informational title packed with strategies, tools, and tips for
and downs with a new paradigm for living a better life.
Return to Index
Clear Path Press
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-944037-83-3 $26.95
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-944037-84-0 $38.95
eBook ISBN: 978-1-944037-85-7 $ 9.99
In Search of Lost Lives comes from an author born into a non-religious family, who began trying to connect to God at the age of eleven, dedicating his life "...to finding a way to conquer death and achieve immortality with a consciousness of absolute bliss." Driven by a desire to connect with God on a different level than most religions offer, and by a search for not just the meaning behind past lives but evidence of those who lived them, Michael Goddart uncovered his own past lives, which explained many of his talents and special abilities.
In Search of Lost
Lives details this journey and
requires only an acceptance of the concept of
reincarnation in order to prove accessible and appealing.
the search as much as the discoveries Goddart made, and this is one
sets his account apart from other reincarnation books which would focus
end results over the process of recovering lost lives.
meat of the
story lies in original journal entries written from March 15, 2013 to
16, 2015. There is a purpose to which lives Goddart chooses to profile,
lives I focus on are those in which I experienced definite spiritual
Lives are also portrayed in which I committed a hurtful act that
resulted in a
subsequent life as an animal or a sojourn between lives in a state of
highlighting allows for a special process of connecting past life
present incarnation purposes, providing readers with at least partial
to the universal questions of who we are, why we are here, and
between spiritual and physical journeys through life.
explores his past lives, readers receive important information on how
discoveries validate and affect his present-day experiences: "Recovering
my past lives has been revelatory. It’s been helping me feel complete
and connected. I feel good and relieved that I did have a childhood in
Edwardian England. Actually, relieved and grateful and joyful. The
fitting together and offering pictures. It’s like waking up one morning
returning to a stubborn jigsaw puzzle and finding that I can gracefully
and place key pieces so that I can see key scenes confirmed."
'it's not just about the destination, but the journey' applies nicely
hard-hitting blend of autobiography, spiritual reflection, and
insights that take the author's probe of his past lives and connects
process to his present-day persona, experiences, and purposes.
a prior interest in investigative reincarnation works will relish
special attention to the significant experiences in his various lives
contribute to who he is today and also his exploration of lives that
specific desires and actions to transmigration to subsequent human and
In Search of Lost
Lives is very highly recommended
as a foundation work of spirituality that
moves deftly beyond the usual past life focus to illuminate the
purpose of particular past lives and the experiences and evolution that
prepared Goddart to follow his current spiritual path.
Return to Index
ISBN: 978-1-5246-9849-2 (sc) $24.99
ISBN: 978-1-5246-9850-8 (e) $10.99
Quickstart Guide to
Songwriting is especially
recommended for those who
have a song in mind, but lack the technical training to translate it to
Typically, these would-be songwriters either work with a musician or
their song to fruition; but Quickstart Guide to Songwriting
alternative path to making one's mental music become reality.
introductory reference chart providing music sample links to online
that teach basics about tempo, chorus, variations in verse lines, and
pointers about songs that work and styles that lack. Then Randy Klein
the common barriers non-musicians face in translating their song to
which range from ignorance about the parts of a song and what
song to the lack of any prior musical education and discussion on what
can become songs.
Klein offers much support in the way of tips ("It is not
write the hook first, then the chorus and then the verse. This happens
when writing a song, the feeling of what the song is about usually
first."), step-by-step exercises, clues to composing lyrics
feeling beats, and a basic understanding of how melody, harmony and
absorb these fundamentals in a supportive environment that assumes no
knowledge, they'll come to the point where they can learn from
other songs, reading others' lyrics and identifying what makes an
song. The musical online links throughout reinforce this knowledge with
concrete auditory examples of a wide range of styles and approaches.
result is a
solid primer that takes the non-musician to the status of songwriter
need for any prior musical training: a boon to those who already like
who have an idea, but need the nuts and bolts of education provided in
simple, supportive, highly recommended guide.
Return to Index
Love & Happiness Publishing, LLC
978-0-9911248-0-0 $11.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
had no advance warning that her healthy 22-year-old daughter would
suddenly one night with cardiac arrest, to die six days later. Surrendering to
Joy: My Year of Love,
Letting Go and Forgiveness delves deeply into the events of
six days which
changed the author's life; and those who read this spiritual story of
go and finding joy will find much to relish as they follow her process.
Surrendering to Joy comes with many cautions about the barriers and
successes to finding
and celebrating joy in life. These range from an addiction to the rush
from drama to understanding the meaning and impact of gratitude,
unaware and uncommitted to spiritual facets in life, and learning how
forgiveness is connected to rebirth.
should be obvious that Surrendering to Joy requires
a certain level of
self-inspection and spiritual, philosophical, and psychological
may prove daunting to those who would not inspect their own lives too
pursue three different essays; each of which delves into spiritual
will find that the autobiographical revelations include a set of
life-changing attitudes and approaches useful under any circumstance;
especially relevant to those whose lives are in flux.
may question how the worst experience of all—the death of a child—could
a life-affirming result; but as Falter reveals her own journey and
to choices and revelations that resulted in not just growth, but
transformation, readers will learn how these changes take place, and
recognizing and rejecting old patterns leads to a different level of
of her own experiences and background and how she moved beyond loss
philosophical note to her work that is usually not seen in stories of
recovery: "Within the great matrix of human understanding, we
exactly those conditions we need to thrive – even if that thriving
must spend a significant part of our life in pain."
inspiring, accessible, and thought-provoking, highly recommended for
wants to move beyond acceptance and into the kind of rebirth that
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These Three Words:
A Birthmother's Story of Choice,
Chance, and Motherhood opens in a
drugstore in 1984, where the then-18-year-old author contemplates her
of pain medication and sleeping pills towards the goal of suicide.
desperate for a permanent resolution to her dilemma that offers a
way out for all involved, Christine Bauer was not prepared to make the
that would lead to motherhood and a hard turn in life that changed not
dreams, but who she was: "In just a few weeks I had tumbled
straddling the high board of life to lying at the bottom of the pool.
week I was a freshman in love with my friends and my new life. Now, I
wondering how many sleeping pills I should take to end my life."
stand the thought of disappointing her parents, either way. Her
clearly presented in a birth story that represents a journey from the
despair to the growing realization that life is offering her a
than she'd ever anticipated, derailing her dreams but replacing them
a pregnant, teenage Catholic living among Mormans, where she feels like
out of water: "A Mormon woman’s greatest career is
motherhood. To them,
I would be an anomaly, a freak...I was just so different from them.
married. I was single. They were in their twenties and thirties; I had
turned nineteen. They were happy and excited to be expecting babies. I
and terrified of my pregnancy. They were thinking about how fun it
would be to
bring their newborns home. I was agonizing over the thought of handing
newborn over to strangers."
finding the right family for her baby—not just any family; but one that
giving, loving, stable, and who will instill the love of learning
enjoyed all her life—and her quest to support the most important
her life makes for a riveting account.
is personal, absorbing, and fully captures these pivot points that
an unintended pregnancy and its lasting impact on her and her entire
Christine Bauer's family makes changes, she enters into motherhood and
its aftermath with an attention to self-forgiveness and fixing the
teen who has faced these same questions and options, and any reader
in the types of changes that lead Christine to other paths in
parenting, will find These Three Words a gripping
examines not just one young woman's individual journey, but its lasting
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the Indian Wars
Edward C. Osborne
Warrior Culture and the
Wars: From the Washita to the Rosebud From Custer's Little Bighorn to
Knee is a companion volume to Edward C.
Culture: The Indian Wars. It analyzes
other Indian wars and provides information from the Washita to Wounded
applying the same methodical analysis and revisionist history that made
Osborne's first book so hard-hitting and controversial.
The controversy piece lies
a historical narrative which continues to challenge cultural
and its application to traditional perspectives of the Plains Indian
one of peaceful roots before the arrival of the white man.
Even more important than
expansion of battle history, Warrior
Culture and the Indian Wars includes a focus on
the lasting modern
impacts of Custer's Last Stand and the battle at Wounded Knee. It's
attention to both historical precedent and the lasting results of its
interpretation on modern-day perceptions and events that makes this
important not just to rectify historical inaccuracies and clarify
insights, but to trace their ongoing presence in modern-day affairs.
While the degree of scholarship and
footnoted references would seem to indicate that readers should have a
scholarly background in Native American and American history, it's
note that descriptions, dilemmas, and insights don't require a
background in order to prove accessible by lay readers with only a
familiarity with the subjects.
Osborne's observations and questions are
thought-provoking and easily absorbed ("Was
the Washita River a brutal massacre of peaceful Indians or was it a
attack against hostile raiders?"), and blend examination of
historical source materials with a critic's eye to their various
interpretations (and misinterpretations) over the years.
This attention to detail allows all readers
to understand how history comes to be written, how its tenants become
as the norm, and the importance and limitations of secondary sources in
scholarly reconstruction of events.
It should also be pointed out that in the
course of this revisionist history, Osborne makes many statements ("Today's minority groups, especially
the Indians, seem to have no sympathy or compassion for white America
see as evil incarnate. They have withdrawn into their own isolated and
primitive tribal past.") that will surely encourage debate
argument among scholarly circles and especially in classroom settings;
is a good thing. So many histories present theories and opinions as
that having a critical re-assessment allows for fresh perspective on
nature, psychological, social, political, and cultural roots of
between Native tribes both with each other and the white man.
Even broader-based is Osborne's contention
that revisionist historical approaches, when presented in analytical
depth, hold value beyond the subject they are examining: "It
is accurate revisionism that makes history indispensable and
significant. All honest history is revisionist history because it must
the test of time. It must endure the focused scrutiny of "new"
evidence, new questions and new perspectives by researchers in the
Quite obviously, the integrity of the historian is the most important
characteristic that he or she must possess."
Black and white vintage photos, maps,
charts, and drawings illustrate characters, controversies, and events
throughout, adding an important visual dimension to the analysis.
The result is an admonition to not only look
at Native American culture and clashes with a new eye to past
representation, but with an acknowledgment of how this affects
relationships both within Indian tribal circles and between Native
Authoritative, controversial, and steeped in
footnoted references and scholarship, Warrior Culture: The
is highly recommended for any college-level
reader or western history enthusiast who would re-examine events of the
and their lasting ideas in modern times.
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We Need a Movement:
Four Problems To Solve To Restore
Rational Government offers a
blueprint and strategy for effecting social change, and is recommended
for those interested in how the entire American social system can be
a lofty, impossible goal. The wheels of change move slowly and
sometimes not at
all; and opposing forces that would change nothing rather than benefit
insurmountable at times.
addresses some important underlying issues in his treatise; from the
and presence of 'selfish power' in social and political circles to the
effects of negative attitudes and thinking, which cause entrenched
processes to remain in place at personal, social, and political stratas
with traditional organizational structures and how planners can change
personalizing the group experience and helping volunteers move into
roles in group sizes that lend to learning and accepting
chapters teach the basics of group strategies and designs that effect
change. A valuable theme of the book addresses a pervasive social
people can communicate better with others who disagree with them.
admonitions may seem simplistic on the surface ("Thousands of
organizations plateau because they do not convey their ideas person to
To a receptive individual who might inspire a thousand others, can you
your plan for changing the world? If not, start there. Learn how to
society and explain it to everyone who will listen. Ask for what you
want."), but they are thoroughly grounded in step-by-step
designed to move from individual to group strengths.
The need for a movement established, the meat of this title lies in the 'how', making it a powerful choice for activists who would effect real change not just in society, but in the individual ways that they perceive and approach the world.We Need a Movement
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9781974267393 $3.88 ebook/$11.98 paperback
Karina Morgan is not like other girls. Her forehead was terribly
she was a baby, so she's gone through her short life marred and
her peers. The weight of what she faces in school increases every year,
middle school seems the worst of all trials until she discovers a cave,
man, and a message that would seem to place her experience in a broader
might anticipate that Karina will be about a
handicap fixed by the
miracle of science; but a different kind of miracle comes to light,
of the mind.
insights blend nicely with metaphysical touches as reincarnation, life
and lessons that can change others are introduced to the story line.
topics may sound like heady reading for middle graders; but E.B. Mann
them accessible through lens of Karina's experience and emotions,
linking the concept of personal pain and courage with wider-ranging
considerations of how individual trials in life can actually build a
how they are handled make Karina a recommended read
beyond middle grades
or even high school, as different age groups will find her story
thought-provoking, and a satisfying testimony to the power of
magical places and a transformative process that ultimately changes not
one bullied eighth-grader but those around her creates a memorable read
reinforces a powerful concept: "...the world is merely a
your own energy. Change yourself and you will see your reflection
the wise Native American Chief Seattle once said: 'All things are bound
together, all things connect."
Atlas, but with a gentler touch, to grasp the essence of Karina's
powerful message, which is highly recommended for all ages.
Return to Index
Your Greatest Adventure
Creative Amition Press
Trade Hardcover: 978-1-7320568-0-0 $16.99
Trade Paperback: 978-1-7320568-1-7 $ 7.99
Kindle Edition: 978-1-7320568-2-4 $ 2.99
Chrysler's good-sized, bright illustrations
enhance the message and presentation of the picture book Your
Greatest Adventure, which combines a rollicking rhyme with an
exceptionally warm story of a mother and her young son's search for
adventures—parachuting, driving a Jeep Wrangler (nee: laundry basket)
the plains of Africa, riding in a hot-air balloon (the same basket)—are
presented by a creative mother who goes about her household chores yet
her young child in an imaginative process that takes flight in many
through many action-packed scenarios.
read-aloud parents will delight in the blend of real-world household
paired with higher-level imaginative thinking, the real message lies in
parents can inject a sense of wonder into everyday affairs; even the
mundane of household chores.
Enhanced by vivid,
colorful drawings and an approach that captures the essence of lively
whether it be in verse, picture, or imaginary events, Your Greatest Adventure's strongest message lies in the types of
creative thinking parents can employ to involve their children in
future possibilities, and fun. The tale is further enhanced by a
who leaps in for a piece of the action in virtually every panel.
Adventure deserves special mention and recommendation. Quite
one of the most engaging, fun, cozy picture book reads of the new year,
Return to Index
fictional animal characters created by David Simmons to portray NASA's
of sending animals into space; but in Richard Mueller's series, they
gained extraordinary intelligence. Middle grade readers ages 8-13 are
in for a
treat with this second book in the Zoonauts adventure, because The China Adventure is a rollicking
story of an alien pilot scout ship in China that runs into difficulty,
newly intelligent pandas who quickly develop a nose for trouble.
residents have been mutated by aliens during their space adventure in
book; and are heroes in this sequel, which traces adventures
Chinese capture of two aliens in Shanghai.
Humor is a
stream that runs through the story line, with all adult concepts
middle grade readers: "As Laika and
Dr. Tom neared the Bar-Be-Cue, they could hear the voices of the
in an argument. “Sometime it sounds like ‘Animal Farm’,” said Laika
reference was to George Orwell’s book about animals who take over a
make things worse than their human caretakers.
“Well, yes, but a much nicer version of it,” said Dr. Tom."
residents discover the Chinese capture, and learn that pandas have been
loose on Shanghai's streets in the process, they decide to lend paws
to help. So begins a journey not only to confront aliens and thwart an
invasion, but to help Animalville's fellow creatures.
Chinese space program ("The Chinese
prepared to carry their space travelers into orbit.
China launched a series of four Shenzhou unmanned
tests. Shenzhou 1 went into space on November 19, 1999.
It made 14 orbits around Earth and carried a
dummy pilot, experimental seeds, commemorative stamps, and national
landed the next day in Inner Mongolia.") intersect with the
tale of a panda inadvertently altered by the Amadorian mutagenic ray
used on it by mistake. Fun drawings pepper the story and embellish
bringing animals and people to life.
Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math
(STEM) educational program by
blending a creative fictional story with a healthy sprinkling of
facts about the Chinese space program.
humor that runs through the story line may be beyond some middle grade
but most will appreciate the fun references and action laced with
observations, and ironies (such as a trashy alien spacecraft). Between
that masquerade as Lucky Dragons (and who already have a history of
defeated as dragons in human early history), intelligent animals that
determined to save the day, and two savvy homeschooled kids who want to
help, The China Adventure excels in
action and satisfying twists of plot that are fairly easy to follow.
The result is a zany, fun, unique story that will appeal to kids who relish humor and tales that incorporate alien invasion, pandas, and Chinese space history.Zoonauts II: The China Adventure
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